How to Encourage Self-Managed Productivity in Startups

Guest Author User Onboarding

Modern start-ups operate on strained resources and high-risk investments. When you begin to expand, it’s integral to incorporate your new hires into the workplace culture. It’s up to you to set a self-management culture right from the word go. Everyone involved has to learn how to be an island of productivity and efficiency.

This guide is the first step towards learning the basics of encouraging self-management. It covers – onboarding, self-management tools, and company culture.

So here’s to a New Year, and a productive you.

User Onboarding

Onboarding is a strategy that introduces new hires to your company culture. It differs from an orientation because it deals more with the values, attitudes and behaviours of a workplace rather than admin elements such as bank details and setting up workstations.  

Onboarding strategy

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Effective onboarding maximises the efficiency and motivation of new hires. It prevents a high turnover and it helps new hires feel ‘settled in’. It also initiates employee loyalty by integrating them swiftly into the company culture and making them feel valued.

Still not convinced? Did you know that lost productivity due to new-hire learning curves can cost from 1% to 2.5% of total business revenues? That might not sound like much, but it could be the difference between securing the next round of investment and going out of business and fading into memory. When you operate on such fine margins – as many startups do – it’s crucial to make sure you get these vital processes spot on.

In light of this, your onboarding strategy should:

-Introduce employees to their co-workers.

-Provide an informal tour of the office and kitchen.

-Use ‘onboarding buddies’. A buddy should be from the same department as the new employee. They operate as a go-to for questions and concerns.

-Clarify how new hires fit into the wider workplace context. Describe how their role fits in with other departments and members of their team.

-Organise ‘shadowing’ sessions to help new hires get to know staff on a one-on-one basis and understand what they do.

-Pre-empt questions that employees are scared to ask. Tea and coffee routines, what mugs to use etc. These seem ‘silly’ to new hires, yet they are cause for worry on that first day.

-Touch base with news hires to see how they’re getting on.
And, whilst not strictly essential in new hire onboarding, you should from now on begin adding the following to your onboarding process:

-Introduce new employees to productivity software such as Momentum, a to-do list add-on for browsers. This will encourage them to customise their workstation to maximise individual efficiency.

Onboarding is a crucial step in establishing a productivity culture. Get it right and you’ll empower new hires to take responsibility for their own productivity from day one. Successful onboarding makes new hires feel a part of the company. It leads to increased output and the desire to work hard for a company they value.

Tip: Create an onboarding checklist (such as this one) to ensure new hires receive the same onboarding process.

Use Productivity Apps

Encourage new hires to find productivity tools or methods that work for them. If an old fashioned pen and paper work for them, that’s great. If it’s a whiteboard, then that’s also great. Post-it notes, whatever – anything to help employees take control of their work agenda.

With most modern businesses, work occurs largely online or through digital means. Coordinating teams and managing workloads is easy through time management and coordination apps.  They’re easy to alter, easy to communicate through and they track your progress.

Coordination tools like Basecamp aid users in project management. Basecamp is an online tick-list that allows users to discuss and plan their projects with others.

The best way to train and onboard new hires is to train them on the live platform. With platforms like Whatfix, you create and embed interactive walkthroughs with absolute ease. These walkthroughs will help in streamlining the training effort and boost productivity.

Time management apps monitor online and desktop activity. Apps like RescueTime collate data from your working day. They gather what programmes and websites you’ve used and how long for. It grades these from highly distracting to very proactive to calculate how productive your day has been. Then employees can use this data and act upon it to improve the productivity of their day.

There’s a whole host of other workplace time management software available. Software like Epic Win makes managing your own time a little more fun whilst Freckle is a more interactive app for the whole workplace. Pick whichever fits your workplace and workforce best and monitor what effect it has on efficiency both overall and individually.

Workplace Culture

Take note: conscious capitalism is on the rise and for good reason. Conscious capitalism believes that work should be enriching. It should be valuable and worthwhile for everyone from employees and shareholders to producers, manufacturers and consumers.

More and more, businesses are embracing the conscious business model. Corporate values and ethics are coming to define twenty-first-century business. And whilst the conscious model is still taking its first baby steps, the benefits are already clear.  

Businesses that look after their employees and maintain a strong well-being based company culture can expect:

-A lower rate of employee turnover.
-Strengthened morale and team spirit.
Better physical and mental health.
-Decreased chance of burnout.
Increased profits and productivity.
-A better public image.

If you foster the right culture, you’ll breed a space for success. As a start-up, you have to get it right from the beginning. That way it’s easier to maintain.
When it comes to considering culture, think back on your working life to date. Which environments have been conducive to your own productivity? How could you adapt these to create a culture of productivity in your workplace with your workforce?

Companies with strong cultures all do these as a bare minimum:

-Have separate kitchen and office spaces.

-Encourage adequate breaks and conversation as well as periods of deep focus. The office should be free from loud noises and distractions so staff can work.

-Equip their office with tea, coffee, and relaxation facilities.

-Encourage a strong work-life balance. If possible, ensure your employees leave at 5 pm every day.

In the corporate world, working long hours has somehow become equated with working hard. However, this logic is becoming tired.

Long hours lead to burnout, health risks, like a 33% increased risk of stroke, and undue stress.

Keeping a tight schedule helps employees maximise the time they’re at work. It creates a sense of team spirit and motivates staff to encourage each other. It also prevents resentment between those who stay and those who don’t.

Long hours also leads to high employee turnover and presenteeism. Presenteeism describes the phenomenon of employees attending work when they are physically or mentally ill. Employees who come to work with ill-health are unproductive and they lower overall workplace morale.

An environment that pressures employees to always be at work and struggle through ill-health is a bad one. An encouraging, relaxed atmosphere with friendly and supportive employees encourages everyone to work towards a common goal.

Your takeaway?

Consider what type of culture facilitates productivity in your workplace and for your particular set of staff. Figure out how to implement the requirements of such a culture into your recruitment and onboarding process.

Above all, harness the power of innovative time management solutions to get the most out of your lean startup.

Hannah Spruce is a Content Author at High Speed Training, a UK-based online training provider that offer free, educational time management advice and information on their blog, the Hub, to accompany their eLearning courses.

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